Robert Parry: After 28 years of drunken optimism and blind nationalism the US wakes up to a grim future
America pays the piper, big time Pt. 1
Producer: Carlo Basilone
CARLO BASILONE, TRNN (VOICEOVER): The financial meltdown on Wall Street and the handouts to bankers has caused many to question the blind faith in a deregulated free market. The more than six years of war in Iraq and no sign of WMDs [weapons of mass destruction] means many are also losing faith in their leaders. In an article on Consortiumnews.com entitled “America Pays the Piper, Big Time,” Robert Parry says, “After a 28-year binge of drunken optimism and blind nationalism—often punctuated by chants of ‘USA, USA!” and “We’re No. 1!”—Americans are waking up with a painful hangover, facing a grim ‘morning in America,’ not the happy vision that Ronald Reagan famously sold them on.” (Robert Parry, September 24, 2008)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER US PRESIDENT: Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.
ROBERT PARRY, AUTHOR AND INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Reagan was a complicated figure in certain ways, but he did credential the neocons. It’s very important to understand that what Reagan did was he brought the neocons in and essentially gave them Central America, where there were a number of conflicts underway. And the neocons, people like Elliott Abrams, Robert Kagan, [who] was involved in some of this, they sort of honed their skills by dealing with some of those conflicts in Central America. And so you see the idea of exaggerating threats. They worked closely with the CIA and psychological operations people to develop what they call “perception management.” And the idea of perception management was they felt that [if] they could control how the American people perceived events abroad, they could get the American people to do pretty much whatever they wanted. And so there was this effort to very systematically, to exaggerate the dangers from, say, Nicaragua—the Sandinistas might take Texas, or they might, conversely, go and take the Panama Canal. I mean, these are ridiculous ideas, considering how weak they really were, but the Sandinistas were being built up into this frightening force, as were other of these rebel movements, mostly peasants who were rebelling against very bad economic conditions in the region. But by making this frightening to Americans and by controlling the message, that is, discrediting journalists who had come forward with contrary information—people like Ray Bonner of The New York Times, who was writing about the death squads that were going through places like El Salvador and Guatemala, killing thousands of people. That did not fit with the Reagan administration propaganda. So those reporters had to be discredited, and pressure was brought to bear on Washington journalists, not just in an ad hoc way but very systematically during the 1980s. They developed these methods of controlling that message so the American people were excessively frightened of what was happening around them. And on a larger scale they also did that with the Soviet Union. They built up the idea that Russia was far more powerful than it was. And, in fact, when people inside the CIA analytical division would keep pointing to these cracks in the Soviet Empire, that was not a message that the Reagan administration wanted to hear. So people like Bill Casey, who was director of CIA, and his deputy Robert Gates would punish those analysts. And eventually those analysts either were driven out of the agency or they stopped pointing to the facts because it would hurt their careers. So there was an effort to control almost the concept of reality that was developed in the 1980s. And Reagan did bring the neocons in who were extremely smart and clever in how they tried to handle and control information.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.